Air

Tracking the latest agency and congressional debates over rules to cut emissions of traditional pollutants, and a broad range of novel EPA policies including the agency's shift to a "multipollutant" regulatory approach for individual sectors.

Topic Subtitle
Tracking the latest agency and congressional debates over rules to cut emissions of traditional pollutants, and a broad range of novel EPA policies including the agency's shift to a "multipollutant" regulatory approach for individual sectors.

PRO-CONVERSION TECHNOLOGY STUDY FUELS DEBATE OVER EMISSIONS

Conversion technology proponents are optimistic that a new study presented to the waste board this week that indicates emissions from waste-to-energy facilities could meet air quality standards will help convince the Legislature to give the industry a regulatory green light to expand in the state. But environmentalists, who have long alleged conversion technology emits harmful emissions and undermines recycling, are skeptical of the report's findings. The report is significant because the Legislature has stated it needs more data on the...

REFINERY PERMIT REFERENCE TO DISCHARGE OFFSETS STIRS CONTROVERSY

The San Francisco Bay regional water board's recent approval of a controversial oil refinery permit also includes a provision that appears to open the door for dioxin discharge offset trading, according to sources. Environmentalists, however, strongly oppose any offset program in water discharge permits and say a recent court decision requires the refinery to avoid discharging any dioxins after 2010. Approved Sept. 21 by the San Francisco Bay regional water board, the Tesoro Refining & Marketing Co.'s most recent National...

CIWMB ADVANCES PROJECTS TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

The waste board this week approved funding for projects aimed at better defining the board's role in Cal/EPA's Climate Action Team, a Schwarzenegger Administration initiative to curb global warming through greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. At the Sept. 20 California Integrated Waste Management Board meeting, the board announced strategies aimed at decreasing GHG emissions from waste industry sources, such as landfills. The board will allocate $155,000 for landfill gas monitoring system assessment to determine if current monitoring systems are sufficient...

ENVIRONMENTAL, CLEAN-ENERGY INDUSTRY GROUPS DIVIDED OVER PROP. 80

Environmental groups and clean energy industry organizations are divided over Proposition 80 -- the ballot measure that aims to re-regulate energy service providers -- primarily over the initiative's potential effect on renewable resource generation in the coming years. The split between normally like-minded groups not only underscores the dispute over the measure's renewable energy impact, but may also reveal fundamentally different philosophies when it comes to government regulation and oversight of business, sources said. Prop. 80, the Electric Consumer Protection...

OMB CRITICISM OF EPA OZONE RISK ESTIMATES MAY UNDERMINE FUTURE RULES

EPA staff say White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) officials are dismissing agency ozone mortality risk estimates, which may weaken EPA's ability to justify upcoming rules imposing emissions limits on mobile sources, power plants and industrial boilers. EPA analysts are currently combining ozone mortality estimates for upcoming national air standards from four extensive studies that show that ozone exposures can cause premature deaths. The EPA review would mark a first-time endorsement of recent scientific studies showing that ozone's...

EPA FINE PARTICLE PROPOSAL INCLUDES CONTROVERSIAL EXEMPTIONS

EPA's long-awaited rule to implement new limits on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) appears likely to meet challenges from environmentalists, since it is less prescriptive than activists had urged and it relaxes some key requirements. Specifically, the rule does not require strict deadlines and pollution control requirements that activists have been seeking; it relaxes new source review (NSR) requirements in some areas compared to an earlier standard for large particles; and it eliminates another pollution control mandate, known as reasonably available...

FISH TISSUE STUDY BOLSTERS MASSACHUSETTS' NOVEL MERCURY TMDL PLAN

KENNEBUNKPORT, ME -- Massachusetts officials are planning to cite a new state study -- which shows reduced mercury levels in fish after the state placed tight air controls on incinerators -- to bolster their novel petition to EPA to control air deposition of mercury rather than creating new water discharge limits. EPA's response to the state's plan is likely to prompt criticism of the agency's mercury policies whether it approves or rejects the state's proposal, state and agency sources say...

WARMING RULING COULD HAVE BROAD IMPACT ON ENVIRONMENTAL TORT SUITS

A federal judge's decision last week dismissing a landmark climate change lawsuit because it represented a "political question" could undermine a host of toxic tort claims that courts consider to be political issues, including pending cases addressing contamination caused by the fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), environmentalists and some legal experts say. Because of this concern, the plaintiffs in State of Connecticut, et al. v. American Electric Power, et al. are planning an appeal to the U.S. Court...

House Battle Looms Over Competing Proposals To Head Off Gas Price Spikes

The House is bracing for an intensified debate over legislation to address the growing political problem of high gasoline prices in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as two competing groups of lawmakers are developing legislation amid the proliferation of energy-related proposals emerging on Capitol Hill. Rank-and-file House lawmakers have introduced a host of measures since Katrina sent gas prices soaring over $3 a gallon in many areas of the country. The newly introduced measures include amendments to the Clean Air...

OMB Plan To Expand Guidance Reviews Could Delay Key EPA Policies

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is planning to require both internal and external reviews of almost all the guidance documents EPA and other agencies issue, a significant expansion of OMB oversight that agency sources say will cripple their ability to issue risk values for controversial chemicals and delay implementation policies for a slew of programs. EPA sources say the draft OMB document announcing the new policy, entitled OMB Bulletin on Good Guidance , could delay agency...

Climate Change Ruling Could Have Broad Impact On Toxic Tort Suits

A federal judge's decision last week dismissing a landmark climate change lawsuit because it represented a "political question" could undermine a host of toxic tort claims that courts consider to be political issues, including pending cases addressing contamination caused by the fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), environmentalists and legal experts say. Because of this concern, the plaintiffs in State of Connecticut, et al. v. American Electric Power, et al. are planning an appeal to the U.S. Court of...

OIL PRICES MAY FORCE ADMINISTRATION TO STRENGTHEN FUEL ECONOMY PLAN

The high cost of oil may force the Bush administration to set stricter corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks than outlined in its proposal released last month, because the administration's cost-benefit test that helped determine the mile-per-gallon (mpg) standard assumes fuel prices significantly lower than current levels, according to industry, environmentalists and other sources. A recent assessment by Resources For the Future (RFF), an environmental think tank, suggests the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may need...

EPA AIR MONITORING PLAN FOR HURRICANE WASTE DISPOSAL FACES CRITICISM

EPA is facing criticism from its science advisers over plans to monitor emissions likely to result from Louisiana's efforts to dispose of significant quantities of Hurricane Katrina debris through incineration and open burning. Members of a special Science Advisory Board (SAB) workgroup said during a Sept. 14 teleconference that when large-scale burning of building debris, dead livestock and other waste occurs, it will increase emissions of fine particles (PM2.5) and EPA should rework its air monitoring plan to increase monitoring...

EPA ADVISERS RAISE CONCERN OVER AIR IMPACTS OF HURRICANE SEDIMENT

EPA's science advisers are raising concerns that dust generated by contaminated sediment left behind by New Orleans floodwaters could pose public health threats. As a result, members of a special Science Advisory Board (SAB) workgroup are urging the agency to develop a plan for monitoring air particles from sediment dust, which the agency could use to issue public health warnings and determine when people could move back into flooded residential areas of the city. The panelists said on a Sept...

HYDROGEN PROPONENTS CITE KATRINA IN PUSH FOR CLEAN-FUEL'S USE

A group formed earlier in the year to promote hydrogen has launched a public relations network in response to energy disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina to encourage greater use and renewable sources of the cleaner-burning fuel. The group, Cleanpeace.org, is trying to build public pressure on U.S. policy leaders to encourage a hydrogen-based economy to reduce U.S. dependence on oil, which the group says threatens the entire economy as evidenced by the hurricane's devastating effects. Cleanpeace.org's new "virtual network," modeled...

SENATORS RESIST CAFE INCREASE AMID TALK OF POST-KATRINA ENERGY BILLS

Key senators appear to be resisting new vehicle fuel efficiency measures despite talk of legislation to remedy energy supply-and-demand problems in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, hinting at continued uphill battles for groups that touted, but failed to include, conservation and alternatives to energy development in a recently approved energy law. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) told reporters Sept. 13 that the idea of boosting corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for automobiles is encountering...

DEMOCRAT PROPOSES HELPING AUTOMAKERS THAT BOOST FUEL ECONOMY

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is proposing that the government help the auto industry with its employees' health care costs if the industry commits to producing cleaner-running and more efficient vehicles, in response to concerns about U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The proposal could foreshadow a Democratic strategy as Congress likely considers a new round of energy legislation in the face of record gasoline prices and fuel shortages following Hurricane Katrina. In a Sept. 15 speech at Resources For the Future...

IMMINENT EPA TRI REFORMS MAY DRAMATICALLY REDUCE REPORTING BURDENS

EPA is preparing to unveil reforms to its Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting rules that are expected to dramatically reduce toxics emissions reporting burdens for industry and small businesses in particular, according to EPA, industry and environmental group sources. EPA's proposed TRI burden reduction regulation would exempt companies whose toxics emissions have not significantly changed from a prior year from reporting actual emissions in alternate years. Instead, it would allow companies to declare that there has been "no significant change"...

INDUSTRY GEARS UP TO FIGHT EPA AIR TOXICS LISTING FOR HYDROGEN SULFIDE

A number of industry sectors are gearing up to challenge a possible EPA listing of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) as a hazardous air pollutant (HAP) in the agency's air toxics program, fearing the move could prompt new emissions control requirements, industry sources say. These sources believe that a number of upcoming scientific studies commissioned by industry groups and industry-funded research centers will bolster their argument that even if the substance is deemed to harm human health, its exposure to the general...

OPPONENTS OF EPA REVISIONS ON UPSET EMISSIONS EYE POTENTIAL LAWSUIT

Activists and some local government officials are considering a lawsuit against EPA's proposed changes to regulations on upset emissions from refineries, claiming the agency would make it nearly impossible for the public to get information about how companies control this pollution. EPA is proposing to restrict public access to records about upset emissions kept by facilities, such as refineries, in a move that could make it harder for people to gather information necessary to prove Clean Air Act violations (...

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